A big THANK YOU to everybody who showed up on Thursday to see us play at the Red Devil Lounge in SF. We filled the place up and heard a lot of great feedback from people, so we’re extremely grateful. Check out the new photos from the show on the Photos page. Big thanks to Teri McCollum for introducing me to Brian Mengini for the great camera work. See you at the next show!
In my song Rocked, I sing a line in the chorus that says:
It’s still me
I’m still here
I’m still full of the same old fears
I spent some time this week thinking about my life and all that has transpired from the first memories I have of moving north from the sticky humidity of Austin, Texas to the record breaking snowfall of Burnsville, Minnesota. I don’t remember much of the details, because I was only three.
But I remember who I was.
Of this I’m sure: Over two decades later, I’m still me.
31 years have come and gone. It sounds like a lot of time when I say it out loud or write it on paper, yet somehow it has flown by. I would like to think that I have a lot to show for those 31 years of existence. And I ask myself if I have really changed all that much. How much of that change is a choice, a conscious or unconscious letting go of the child-like attitude in all of us? How much does the stress and worry of everyday survival cause us to lose our love for the simple things in life? For each of us the answers are different, but somehow too similar.
I have come a long way from toting pencil boxes and scissors in my third grade elementary school. It’s not a tangible journey, but a complicated filing system of memories in my brain’s database that holds each and every sight, sound, smell, touch taste, and emotion that I’ve ever had.
As far as resumés are concerned, I have made something of myself. I am an independent professional in the eyes of the world. I have the right to ease my mind with words like “successful,” educated,” important.” I am a graduate of a top arts school in NYC. I am a professional dancer with a world class company in a thriving urban city. I am a husband to a beautiful ballerina in that same company. I am financially independent. I have made connections with hundreds of talented people all over the world. I have performed on world stages in Beijing, Paris, Athens, London, Iceland, as well as the four corners of the US.
These experiences shape me without a doubt. But I still feel the raw emotions of wonder and fear from 28 years ago, desperate for love and acceptance, when I sing the chorus to Rocked:
I’m still full of the same old fears
So hold me, please hold me tonight
And don’t turn out the light
Some of my fears have been outgrown. I’m no longer afraid of spinach. I can’t get enough of it now. I overcame my fear of roller coasters the day that my twin brother Benjamin made me try every ride at Disneyland. Space Mountain will live in my mind as the greatest ride in history.
Some fears will never go away. Some fears are silly, like scary movies, spiders, or eating the ends of bananas (ask Courtney about that one the next time you see her). Some fears cut much deeper. Take for example the fear of not being loved. I know both my parents love me to the core. I know that my twin brother and younger sister would do anything for me, at anytime. I know my wife loves me like we share the same spirit, but there are still days when I feel a sense of having to prove myself to those around me and the world, like I only matter if I can post the correct numbers or live up to some impossible standard.
The fear that I’m trying to let go of is the fear of not being loved. Just like paintings, songs, and sculptures, my worth is inherent in my existence, not in my performance. I’m still trying to wrap my mind around the fact that “there is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.” 1 John 4:18
The fear that I mention in the chorus of Rocked could be anything for you. Fear of being humiliated, fear of death, fear of authority, fear of losing somebody you love, fear of not being remembered. Everybody is afraid of something. No amount of money, status or education can dispel the demons that haunt us while we lie awake in the early morning.
There will always be something to fear in this life. I want to hold on to the right fears.
I want to hold onto the fear of losing my child-like (not childish) heart. Jesus says to the little ones, “Let the children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” Matt. 19:14 Eternity is going to be filled with child-like hearts that replaced pride with humility and selfishness with generosity.
I want to keep the fear of my Creator. Instead of paralyzing me, this fear frees me to reach my full potential. It keeps me humble, grounded, like a reality check. It shows me that I am not judge, jury and executioner so I can free up my day with things that matter, like helping someone who is less fortunate than me. Besides humbling me, it lifts my self worth to the highest possible status, like I’m a one of a kind collector’s piece. It affects the way that I see the world when I wake up in the morning, the way I talk to a person during the day, the things I spend my time focusing on as the day progresses, and what I invest my self worth in at the end of the day. It reminds me of the brevity of life. This time on earth will pass away “like the grass withers and flowers fade.”
I like to imagine someday running into the kids that I used to play with back in grade school. I can still remember their faces and their laughs, which no doubt have changed since I last saw them. I would ask them if they remember the person they were when they didn’t know what it was to lie, cheat, gossip, steal, hate, betray, ignore, curse, and judge. I would hug them and say with no doubt in my mind, I’m still the same kid that went to sleep with the nightlight on, fighting an imagination on overdrive after watching a black and white episode of Twilight Zone. It’s still me. Matthew.